Fifty (ii)

“Most of the schools raised the funds needed, and then we fitted out the kitchens and got the press along of course to take photos and cover the story. It went down very well in the local press as you can imagine, and got some pick-up in home magazines and the trade press too.”

“What about the teachers?” I asked.

“Ah, we picked schools with teachers already qualified in cooking, or home economics or domestic science or whatever they called it. Otherwise we’d have got the kit and it would have just sat there with no-one to put it to use.”

“And did it get used? What happened then?”

“Yes, we followed the schools’ progress for a bit. We went back a year later to get the press involved again, but you can’t do that a second time, so we lost visibility after that.”

“Marcus couldn’t tell me much about it when I asked him earlier.”

“No, well I guess not. He wasn’t in marketing or PR.”

Yvonne and Michelle looked at each other, and both scrabbled to say much the same thing.

Yvonne: “Uh-oh. I see where this is going. You’re implying this was – what’s that phrase you use – lipstick on a pig.”

Michelle put it another way: “It looked good, but it wasn’t necessarily informed by the values of the company; it didn’t sit at the heart of the business.”

“It didn’t come from the heart of the business it seems,” I added. “The way you tell it, Steve’s kid was the inspiration, not Attenzi. But funnily enough I think it is the kind of thing that could come from the heart of the business; live at the heart of the business. I’m guessing that’s partly why Steve shaped it that way, but he was always going to be foxed in the long run if this wasn’t central to business. I mean, for newspaper column inches to determine as and when something fizzles out…!”

“And it’s just as well that the Lorenz Capital partner wasn’t sales led,” Sarah commented. “I don’t recall there being any significant sales uplift during that time.”

“How much can we sell lipstick for?” Yvonne replied.